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Previewing the Unpreviewable: Newcastle vs Chelsea

Newcastle host Chelsea this weekend. Is there any hope for a win?

Newcastle United Training Session
all smiles from Miggy!
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

After a wonderful 4-1 win over Rochdale Newcastle are set to take on 4th placed Chelsea, who are looking to build on an impressive run of form.

Newcastle currently sit in 13th with 26 points, placing them 5 points clear of the relegation zone. Chelsea currently are in 4th, and this match would not have an immediate effect on the table for them but would allow them to solidify a top 4 place. They currently are 6 points behind 3rd placed Leicester, and 5 points ahead of 5th placed Manchester United.

Both teams are entering this match with confidence after winning by 3 goals in each of their last matches.

In the reverse fixture Chelsea narrowly escaped with a 1-0 win after a brilliant match from

Current Form

Chelsea are definitely the more in form side, as they have only lost one in their last 5. Newcastle are definitely gaining confidence with the return of key players such as Matt Ritchie and Jamaal Lascelles, and have looked impressive in matches those two have appeared in (to be fair they played against Rochdale, so . it is not hard to “look impressive”)

The last 5 results for each team are below

Newcastle (WDDLL)

Newcastle 4-1 Rochdale

Wolves 1-1 Newcastle

Rochdale 1-1 Newcastle

Newcastle 0-3 Leicester

Newcastle 1-2 Everton

Chelsea( WWDWL)

Chelsea 3-0 Burnley

Chelsea 2-0 Nottingham Forest

Brighton 1-1 Chelsea

Arsenal 1-2 Chelsea

Chelsea 0-2 Southampton

What Do Newcastle have to do to win?

Newcastle’s back line has to find a way to contain Chelsea’s front 3 of Hudson-Odoi, Abraham and Willian. The last match although it ended 1-0 was a display dominance from this front 3.

Chelsea’s front 3 had a combined 10 of their teams 16 shots in the reverse fixture.

TEN shots! That is more than a lot of teams have in a single match, and that came from 3 players alone. This stat does not even tell the story of the freedom these guys were allowed when on the ball going up against our timid back line.

Chelsea FC v Newcastle United - Premier League
this guy is good
Photo by Harriet Lander/Copa/Getty Images

According to whoscored, those 3, despite none of them scoring a goal were some of Chelsea’s highest rated players in the match. Hudson-Odoi and Willian both nearly got 8’s for their performances, while no player on Newcastle’s back line registered above a 7.

Chelsea’s front 3 were allowed a ton of space to operate and create chances for each other. If more of the same happens this match it is likely that they will actually convert some of these chances they are creating for each other and the floodgates will open.

The onus here is on Jamaal Lascelles, who is the organizer of this defense. Having him back in the team is huge for the back line, especially considering he is our only center back that seems to not want to unnecessarily surge forward. Other players like, Florian Lejeune are going to have to step up after not really looking impressive as of recent.

The potential addition to Matt Ritchie to the back line is a huge boost as well. Since moving to a Left Wing-back role Ritchie has surprisingly become an effective defender that seems to rarely make mistakes or get beaten by much faster wingers.

Players to Watch

Allan Saint-Maximin is the player to watch for Newcastle. I don’t expect him to start, but Bruce has shocked me with all his starting lineups since I nave started this preview series, but I do expect him to make an appearance. Whenever he makes his appearance in this match , whether that is as a starter or an impact sub, you can expect the offense to go through him.

Even when he and Miggy have played together, ASM has been the one to really try and provide a spark to the Newcastle attack by shifting the focus to him so other players can be freed up to make runs in dangerous positions. His ability with the ball at his feet often drags players out of position and leaves center backs on an island having to deal with the size of Joelinton or the pace of Miguel Almiron

Newcastle United Training Session
That face when you see your name in the team sheet
Photo by Serena Taylor/Newcastle United via Getty Images

I am interested to see how he is deployed by Bruce in this match considering Newcastle have adopted relatively well to his absence with a new formation as well players playing different positions.

Nonetheless, it is clear he is our most dangerous player on the ball, and his confidence alongside the newfound confidence Miguel Almiron is displaying could finally unlock the counterattacking threat Newcastle fans have been dreaming of

For Chelsea the player to look out for is Callum Hudson-Odoi. With the right side of our defense in an awkward position with the injury status of Yedlin and Manquillo in question , whoever is playing right wing back for Newcastle will certainly have their hands full.

Hudson-Odoi of course is having a great season for Chelsea, but what is more important is that he had a great match against Newcastle’s back line. The last time we played Chelsea he had 2 shots, an assist, 5 chances created, and 3 successful dribbles.

Newcastle likely will be trotting out either a player that has recently returned from injury, or a makeshift Right Wing-back to deal with one of the most dangerous wingers in the Premier League this season.

Injuries... of which there are many

Newcastle received some positive news on the injury front as Steve Bruce was able to confirmed that both Fabian Schar and Allan Saint-Maximin are available for selection this match. I would not expect Schar to play because Newcastle have 4 other healthy center backs, but it is possible that St. Gucci Max could make an appearance after training with the team for 2 weeks. Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Ritchie appear as if they are now able to go a full 90, which is welcome news for the team.

Unfortunately for Newcastle, Paul Dummett was handed another injury blow, as it appears his hamstring injury that was supposed to keep him out for a few weeks will sideline him for a few months.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United - Premier League - Molineux
Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

In addition to Dummett Newcastle will be without Javi Manquilo, Dwight Gayle, Ki, and Muto. DeAndre Yedlin and Andy Carrol could make the team sheet as they are technically healthy, but we have not heard anything new.

For Chelsea, Charley Musonda is not going to make another appearance this season and neither will Marco Van Ginkel or likely Reuben Loftus-Cheek. Pulisic and Alonso are doubtful for this match as both are dealing with muscle injuries.

One Bold Prediction

Allan Saint-Maximin will score.

Surprisingly the 22 year old has not scored for Newcastle, but he has gotten pretty damn close. I think this match could be the one where he gets his first goal. ASM is always in good spirits and has looked dangerous on the ball against Premier League opposition. It is only a matter of time before he pieces all of this talent together for his first goal.

One Not So Bold Prediction

Christian Atsu will almost score.

This is just the truth and we all know it. Christian was put on this earth to almost score goals, and I am sure he would love to score against his former club. Too bad he will actually just almost score against his old club.

The Elijah Newsome Clout Rating

If you missed the explanation for this revolutionary system an explanation can be found here. If you don’t want to read more than 3 sentences about the word “clout”, just know my Clout rating is a rating based on a club’s swag, influence and relevance.

As an American, I have to give Chelsea some clout points for signing the only hope for American soccer, Christian Pulisic. They get some brownie points for doing that, because like I said, it is my God-given duty to hype up American soccer players.

As a manager Frank Lampard has a surprising amount of swag. His sideline arsenal includes an impressive array of skinny ties, scarves, European cut suits (which i guess in Europe are just “suits”),sweaters, and great shoes. As a man of fashion myself (not really) I have to respect his ability to dress.

Chelsea Dolce & Gabbana Suit Fittings
this picture is giving me second thoughts about the man i just praised for having good style
Photo by Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images

Not only does Frank have swag, but the whole team looks pretty damn good in their kits. All of their kits this season are actually really damn good. The white away kit and black 3rd kits are both super clean, and their home kit is a unique take on a traditional look. shoutout to Nike for actually getting it right.

Chelsea also have some fun young personalities like the aforementioned Christian Pulisic, Tammy Abraham, Michy Batshuayi, and Callum Hudson-Odoi.

However, they are the club that birthed David Luiz, and they have to get a decrease in clout due to the Kepa incident of last year.

Clout Rating: 14 “Where’s Waldo” books, and a side of Baked Mac and Cheese

Projected Lineups

The return of Ritchie and Lascelles to the team is going to be a welcome addition for Steve Bruce. However, Andy Carroll being a match-day decision could complicate things for Bruce. Not only would he be down to one striker, but he would be forced to start Allan Saint-Maximin who is just now returning from injury. Bruce seems to be more concerned about the health of Andy Carroll than anyone else and I think ASM starts.

Shelvey’s return mixes things up in the midfield, especially since the Longstaff midfield was overrun in the reverse fixture. Bruce has a tough decision to make, as he must chose between the inform Longstaff duo, or reinserting Jonjo Shelvey into the team, who has been one of Newcastle’s best players this year. I think for this match Bruce will go against his gut and start Shelvey. (Again, honestly I have no idea because Steve makes a lot of questionable lineup decisions).

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Newcastle United - Premier League
Hayden has played well as a member of the back line this season, and he likely will be asked to do so again this week
Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Isaac Hayden will get the nod at RWB again this match. Not only has he shown he can play the position well, but there is still uncertainty around the health of DeAndre Yedlin, and Emil Krafth has not looked impressive in his 2 starts.

Chelsea don’t have to really deal with a selection headache. It is possible they could continue to rest Kante in this match because they have the depth to play without him against an inferior side. Knowing Kante however, he is likely eager to get back in the first team.

Newcastle Projected Lineup (5-4-1): Dubravka; Hayden, Fernandez, Lascelles, Lejeune, Ritchie; Saint-Maximin, Shelvey, S. Longstaff, Almiron; Joelinton.

CheIsea Projected Lineup (4-3-3): Arrizabalaga; James, Christensen, Zouma, Azpilicueta; Jorginho, Kante, Mount; Willian, Abraham, Hudson-Odoi.

One Random Fact to Say at the Bar

Newcastle have lost their last two Premier League home games, conceding as many goals in those defeats as they had in their previous seven combined at St James’ Park (5).

Elijah’s Never Wrong Prediction

Chelsea have not recorded an away clean sheet at all this season, so I believe Newcastle can at least score once. I also have little faith that Newcastle will be able to fully contain the front 3 of Chelsea, with Hudson-Odoi likely scoring.

But, I do think having Ritchie and Lascelles back in the side will be very impactful and I can see Newcastle nicking a 2-1 win at home.

Match Facts and Where to Watch

Date: Saturday, 18 January 2020

Kick-off: 12:30 PM EST, 5:30 PM GMT

Venue: St. James’ Park

TV coverage: NBC (USA), Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Premier League (UK)

Referee: Chris Kavanagh